A bill to legalize possession of psychedelics in California will be introduced in the Senate after passing a major procedural hurdle Thursday.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener (D), had already passed through two policy committees. But to appear on the calendar of the room, it had to be authorized by the Senate Appropriations Committee as part of an important waiting file by a deadline. Otherwise, he would have been dead for the session.
The panel approved it with a 5-2 vote.
There was no debate on the proposal. Instead, the president simply said which of the hundreds of bills that were on the waiting file would be referred to the prosecution. This means that the psychedelic reform measure will be taken up by the plenary chamber by June 4. If she does, she will head to the Assembly and then, potentially, to the governor’s office.
If enacted into law, the bill would remove criminal penalties for possessing or sharing many psychedelics – including the mushrooms psilocybin, DMT, ibogaine, LSD, and MDMA – for adults of 21 years and over.
Our legislation to decriminalize psychedelics, # SB519, has passed a key committee and will be voted on by the entire Senate within the next two weeks.
– Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) May 20, 2021
the measured Originally included sealing and resentencing provisions for those previously convicted of psychedelic possession offenses, but that wording was removed Thursday as part of a promoter’s amendment.
Under the bill, the state Department of Public Health would be required to create a task force “to study and make recommendations regarding possible regulatory systems that California could adopt to promote safe and equitable access to certain substances in authorized legal contexts ”. These recommendations would be expected on January 1, 2024.
For psilocybin in particular, the legislation would repeal provisions in California law that prohibit the cultivation or transport of “any spores or mycelium capable of producing fungi or other material” containing the psychoactive ingredient.
Peyote-derived mescaline is specifically excluded from the bill’s reform provisions “because of the near-endangered status of the peyote plant and the particular importance of peyote in Native American spirituality.” This has been a contentious issue by and large, with advocates and indigenous groups divided over where peyote should fit into a model of psychedelic reform.
While the bill is described by lawmakers and advocates as mere “decriminalization,” the official legislative analysis of the proposal indicates that it would “make lawful” the personal possession and social sharing of these substances.
Meanwhile, a group of California activists announced plans earlier this year to implement an initiative to legalize the use and retail of psilocybin during the state vote in 2022. This group, Decriminalize California, said it would work first to convince lawmakers to continue with reform, and then bring the matter directly to the people if lawmakers do not act.
The California legislature’s psychedelic effort, which Wiener first introduced in November, comes as activists step up efforts to enact psychedelic reform locally in cities across the state and across the country. The bill notes these efforts in an explanation of the proposal.
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Northampton, Massachusetts city council passed a resolution earlier this month to lower the priority of law enforcement against the possession, use and distribution of a wide range of psychedelics such as psilocybin and ayahuasca. It is the third city in the state to advance policy change, after Somerville and Cambridge.
These are some of the latest iterations of a nationwide psychedelic reform movement that has grown rapidly since Denver became the first city to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in 2019.
Besides cities in Massachusetts, four others – Oakland, Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor, and Washington, DC – have also decriminalized possession of herbal psychedelics and mushrooms.
In Oregon, the November election saw the passage of landmark initiatives to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes and more broadly decriminalize possession of all drugs.
In Oakland, the first city where a city council voted to broadly deprioritize the criminalization of entheogenic substances, lawmakers approved a follow-up resolution in December that calls for the policy change to be passed statewide and for local jurisdictions. be allowed to allow healing ceremonies where people could use psychedelics.
After lawmakers in Ann Arbor passed a decriminalization resolution last year, a county attorney recently announced that his office would not pursue prosecutions for possession of entheogenic plants and fungi – “regardless of how much it is. cause ”.
Aspen, Colorado city council discussed the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and proposals to decriminalize these substances at a meeting earlier this month. But members said, as it stands, passing a reform would be better managed at the state level, while entheogens would remain strictly controlled by the federal government.
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